This post is deliberately not going on Twitter, not being reposted to RedState, and not being guest-posted on AoSHQ this week; I just want to say it, and minimize the chances of it being used as ammo next year if Romney is the nominee.
Here’s my problem, and here’s Mitt’s problem; he’s a one-term former governor saddled with the reputation that he’ll say whatever the hell you want him to say in order to get elected (Stephen Green infamously summed Romney up in 2008 by saying that Romney acts like the guy who wants to know just what it’ll take to get you to drive that BMW off of the lot). Nominating him will take one of our primary motivators (Obamacare) off of the rhetorical table for the general election*, which is bad: Obamacare is the God-help-us signature achievement of this administration, and the country hates it. Worse, his performance in the pre-primary season can be best described as “ducking under the podium as the firefight goes on.” Probably wise in the short term; in the longer one, not so much.
But why should Romney care, given that he does have money and organization? Easy: his polling numbers. Romney’s RCP poll average in November of 2010 was 22.6; its highest (July 2011) was 25.0; it is now (October 2011) 23.3. During that time we have seen at least two flameouts of candidates (Pawlenty and Bachmann), two meteoric rises (Perry, Cain), and one falling-back-to-earth** (Perry)… but while most of it seems to be good news for Romney, none of it seems to be helping the candidate. People just seem to be looking for an alternative. Any alternative.
Given that I’m trying to be as positive as possible about this – after all, Romney may end up being the candidate – I suggest that Mitt Romney start trying to be that alternative. Which means that he needs to stop ducking behind the podium and letting the other candidates pick each other off. Which means plain speaking. And which making it clear that he doesn’t actually want to sell us that fucking BMW if we can’t actually afford it.
*Mitt Romney supporters dispute this; but when you have to start your argument against the fed’s intrusive government program by explaining how it’s different from the state intrusive government program that you put together, you are pretty much hosed.
**It’s not a flameout. Yet. But Perry needs to up his game with the debates.